The Pittsburgh Penguins, coming off a season in which they made the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since the 1991-92 season had high expectations coming into the 08-09 season.
However, the Penguins have had several key injuries that may keep them from returning to the Stanley Cup Finals and hosting that trophy for the first time in almost two decades. Their top two defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney are out for extended periods of time with injuries. Gonchar is out for four to six weeks with a dislocated shoulder while Whitney is on the shelf for three to five months after having surgery to correct a left foot misalignment.
This leaves the Pens relatively thin and inexperienced on the back line. With Mark Eaton returning from a torn ACL and subsequent reconstructive surgery and newcomer Alex Goligoski being called up from Wilkes Barre/Scranton of the AHL the Penguins have a lot to over come if they plan on having an season on par with the one that they had last year.
I see the Penguins having a tough time keeping the likes of Alex Ovetchkin of the Washingon Capitals and other snipers thorughout the NHL from having big games whenever they play the Penguins.
It would not surprise me though if the Penguins get through this much like they got through the stretch last year where captain Sidney Crosby was out with a high ankle sprain and Evgeni Malkin took the team on his back. The Penguins definitely have the offensive fire power to do well this year especially with the additions of Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedetenko both formerly of the New York Islanders.
All in all, it will be very interesting to see how the Penguins fare with out their top two blue liners and if they can mantain their dominance in the Eastern Conference.